Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Sports

Miami enjoys NCAA tourney ride

AUSTIN, Texas — Miami coach Jim Larranaga told his players before the start of the NCAA Tournament he planned to have more fun than any other coach, and he expected his team to do the same.

So when a fire alarm went off at the Erwin Center during Miami's allocated 90-minute practice session Saturday morning — forcing an evacuation of the building — the Hurricanes did what they do best when in each other's company.

They created a good time for themselves.

"We went outside and had a little freestyle contest," senior C Reggie Johnson said. "Guys were making beats and rhyming and stuff. We had just gotten in our first drill, and guys were still getting loose. So it wasn't a big deal."

"Julian (Gamble) was out there rapping and we were just having fun, being brothers like we really are," senior G Trey McKinney Jones said. "We made the most out of it."

The alarm was activated by a mechanical issue.

THE BATS ARE BACK: The bats that made an appearance during Florida's shootaround Thursday afternoon returned during practice Saturday afternoon. And just how much of a distraction they were depended on whom you asked.

"It didn't really bother me at all or bother Coach (Billy Donovan) at all either," C Patric Young said. "He was like, 'If you get bit, I'll pay for your medical bills.' "

Junior F Casey Prather said he was amused watching the varying reactions his teammates had, but G Scottie Wilbekin didn't find it funny at all.

"I couldn't keep focused," he said.

NO SURPRISE: The rest of the nation might have been stunned by No. 15-seeded Florida Gulf Coast's win over No. 2 Georgetown on Friday. But Miami wasn't.

The Hurricanes know firsthand how tough FGCU could be because it defeated the Hurricanes 63-51 on Nov. 13 in Estero.

"Everybody on our team picked them to win that game," Miami senior F Kenny Kadji said. "We knew how good Florida Gulf Coast was. The way they played against us at their place was unbelievable.

"Everybody was saying we didn't have (senior G) Durand Scott back. But I knew that was not a fluke. They were a pretty good team. So good job to them. I think they will go far in this tournament."

LET'S GO 'NOLES: Illinois F Sam McLaurin is a Florida native playing in a region with two Florida schools. But when asked if he felt he had something to prove to Florida and Miami, McLaurin said absolutely not.

Because he isn't a fan of either school, anyway.

"Actually, I'm from Tallahassee. And when you're from Florida, you're either a Hurricane, a Gator or a Seminole. So, no, I never thought about playing for those guys."

FINAL WORD: "Tell them I said, 'Thanks.' I've got a brother who lives in Minnesota. Does that help?" — Larranaga's response when told a large contingent of Minnesota fans will be in attendance tonight and plan on cheering for fellow Big Ten member Illinois against Miami.

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

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